Mirrors / Mirages

Galerie Ron Mandos is proud to introduce Mirrors / Mirages, an exhibition that delves into the ability of light to both reflect and refract reality. The works by Lieven Hendriks, James Turrell, Ann Veronica Janssens, Brigitte Kowanz, Iván Navarro, Troika, Sarah van Sonsbeeck, and Jonny Niesche show how light is both generated, dispersed and obscured. Through apertures and mirrors we are invited into worlds that intertwine the material and the virtual, the inner and the outer self. As these worlds converge, our understanding of reality begins to shift.

Mirage #13 (Prism series), 2021 | Acrylics on linen | 140 x 115 cm

Lieven Hendriks

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Lieven Hendriks

In the paintings of Lieven Hendriks, prisms and other magical reflections create mirage-like visuals that capture a deep urgency to see something. Like a desert mirage, Hendriks’s works are driven by desire and imagination – a form of optical illusion that since antiquity has long been core to the visual arts.

Mirage is the visualization of something you want to see so bad you will get to see it. It is the ultimate illusion of a world that in reality doesn’t exist. A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays bend via refraction to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky: a road in front of you on a summer day in which “fake water” appears on the road. Lieven Hendriks is intrigued by the natural phenomenon. It is neither mythical nor religious, but still magical. It comes out of nowhere and can mean so much to the viewer.

Mirage #5 (Landscape series), 2021 | Acrylics on linen | 40 x 45 cm

Lieven Hendriks

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A Few Notes on the History of Optical Illusion and Light in Art

Optical illusion and light have often been considered to be at the foundation of art. Pliny the Elder wrote in his Natural History (77 AD) on the origin of painting, chronicling that the first painting was a contour line drawn by a Corinthian maid around her lover’s shadow, so she could preserve his image as a memento while he was away. In the same book, Pliny writes about the painting contest between Zeuxis and Parrhasios, two famous masters from Ancient Greece who tried to trick each other with their super realistic paintings. To create such realistic depictions of a bouquet of flowers or a curtain covering a window, one had to resort to special techniques of displaying light and its effects.

From classical antiquity to our present day, light has been used as a synonym of truth. Plato used the sun as an analogy for it, as light bestows us with the ability to see and it makes things intelligible. Renaissance masters like Masaccio and Da Vinci, for whom light was still a symbol of verity, applied the technique of chiaroscuro to both illuminate objects and generate a sense of depth. Ever since, creating a spatial illusion on the flat surface of a canvas has been the credo of academic painting.

In the nineteenth century, artist like Goya, Turner and Van Gogh revolutionized our understanding of light and its place in painting. They transformed light’s historical use as that which illuminates the material, into a means that permits a more genuin realization of color. Color became a manifestation of something immaterial, spiritual almost. This purified concept of light has been the basis for many modern and contemporary art movements playing with light, such as ZERO and the Southern Californian Light and Space movement. Within the exhibition Mirrors / Mirages, we show a selection of artworks that deal with the immateriality of light as well as its illusory effects.

Squat, Juke, Carn, Alta (Parkett VII/XXI), 1990 | Aquatint etching four-part on Zerkall | 44 x 37,5 cm (paper) 49,5 x 43 cm (framed)

James Turrell

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Sunset at Roden Crater, 2009 | Color Carbon Print Edition | 61 x 76,2 cm | 88 x 101,5 cm (framed)

James Turrell

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James Turrell

Whilst historically, light and its effects have played both subject and muse, the work of James Turrell uses light as medium. Light, the immaterial and ephemeral, is granted a sense of form and solidity. In Howdy Doody (Magnatron) (2000), this pioneer of light art has made what appears to be a television, but on further inspection the work opens into a deep space filled with oscillating light.

Howdy Doody (Magnatron)

Since his childhood, Turrell has been interested in how television screens create recognizable fields of colors. Central to Turrell’s practice is the ability of color to convey information. Inspired by the Impressionists, who did not mix but juxtapose the colors they painted, Turrell experiments with placing two colors next to one another to change our perception of both.

Howdy Doody (Magnatron), 2000 | Installation, Television | Room Variable

James Turrell

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www 12.03.1989 06.08.1991, 2017 | Neon, aluminum, mirror | 235 x 670 x 15 cm

Brigitte Kowanz

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In the work of Brigitte Kowanz (AT, 1957), light’s connection to color is severed. Instead, she uses a pure obliterative white. Here, the focus of Kowanz’s practice is the ability of light to carry information. Her messages can be read through letters and other abstractions in her neon signs, which refer to Morse code and the dates of important moments in the history of the digital revolution. Kowanz not only formulates messages and images through light, but also designs spaces. Within her reflective spaces, our sense of orientation is warped, and we are brought into a limbo between a material and immaterial reality that feels all too familiar in today’s digitally saturated world.

Shift of Meaning, 2020 | Neon, Mirror | 60 x 60 x 60 cm

Brigitte Kowanz

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asap, 2020 | Neon, Mirror | 60 x 60 x 60 cm

Brigitte Kowanz

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“The meeting of real and virtual space is an important moment in these works. They generate transitions, transformations and reflections of reflections, destabilized hybrid spaces with their own potential. I pay attention to the simultaneity of real, virtual and fictional space, rooms where light and atmospheres are shaped, and therefore come into being. A certain disorientation, a notion of being lost within the infinity of information is undeniable.”

Brigitte Kowanz

Mirage, 2020 | LED light bulb, cherry wood, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy | 165,1 × 91,4 × 20,3 cm

Iván Navarro

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Iván Navarro

Iván Navarro’s new works are abstract simulations of cosmic landscapes. As spectator of these spectacular sceneries we begin to contemplate our role within the constantly expanding universe. His Cluster works from 2020 are made of round panels of illuminated glass and painted mirrors, which open like windows onto infinite space. Within Mirage (2020), Navarro has formed a miniature black hole where everything seems to collapse into oblivion and danger lies in wait.

Cluster IV, 2020 | Hand-painted mirror, LED light, aluminum, glass paint, glass, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy | 51 × 4 cm

Iván Navarro

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Cluster II, 2020 | Hand-painted mirror, LED light, aluminum, glass paint, glass, mirror, one-way mirror and electric energy | 51 × 4 cm

Iván Navarro

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“My new constellations are not literal representations of the universe, but rather abstractions. These abstractions have a lot to do with the idea of looking through a telescope from one point of view and thereby trying to control our image of the universe. When I simulate these visions on paper or paint it on the glass of my installations it becomes something entirely abstract.”

Iván Navarro

Magic Mirror (Blue), 2012 | Dichroïc polyester film, securit glass, float glass | 200 x 120 cm

Ann Veronica Janssens

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Ann Veronica Janssens

Ann Veronica Janssens Magic Mirror (Blue) (2012) functions as a portal opening up into a magical universe of blue. The mirror is made of several layers of glass, including a thin-film filter that allows only one color to pass. Another central pane within the mirror has been deliberately shattered and gives the work a sense of movement. The work evokes a sense of wonder by creating a feeling of proximity to the usually immaterial elements of color, light, and space.

Troika

Within the objects of artist collective Troika lies a phantasmagoric spectrum of colors. In Borrowed Light (2021) and Segment of a sunrise (2019) photographic production processes are used to expose color spectra that are reminiscent of a sunset or sunrise onto large format slide film. These digitally constructed dawns, bring to light our collective longing to freeze-frame and capture perpetually fleeting moments – sunsets and sunrises being arguably the most extensively photographed natural phenomena.

Segment of a sunrise, 2019 | Perspex, photographic film | 240 x 35 x 8 cm

Troika

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Borrowed Light, 2021 | Acrylic case, Photographic film | 45 x 35 x 7,5 cm

Troika

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Unstable Constructs, 2021 | Perspex tubes, photographic film | 100 x 70 x 10 cm

Troika

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Unstable Constructs

The infinite, almost liquid color spectrum that oscillates in Unstable Constructs (2021) varies according to the viewer’s position. Here, the collective uses the slide film as a kind of skin – similar to the way an object texture might be used in a state of the art visualization software – hinting at how the digital world crosses over into the physical, and giving the otherwise transparent acrylic columns an appearance that seems to fluctuate between solid and gaseous.

Sarah van Sonsbeeck

Sarah van Sonsbeeck’s Moment of Bliss (2020) tantalizes us with the possibility that we might be able to hold on to the blissful moment of a sunset. Her light installation was originally created for the Funeral Museum in Amsterdam and gives hope in difficult times. Van Sonsbeeck calls herself an immaterial architect, building with light and recreating the ephemeral and intangible.

Moment of Bliss, 2021 | Stage light, red filter, programmable dimmer switch | Variable

Sarah van Sonsbeeck

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“Light is something that has always made me deeply happy. Having a background in architecture I have always felt there is an ‘immaterial architecture’ of things like the view from a window, the smell or temperature of a space, the neighbors, the light, that is much more significant and often overlooked. Who cares what a house looks like, when you live in it, it is the view you’ll see everyday. Light is perhaps the most important part of this mental architecture to me.”

Sarah van Sonsbeeck

Stilj the one (Orangina), 2021 | Voile, Acrylic mirror and MDF | 110 x 85 x 6cm

Jonny Niesche

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Jonny Niesche creates colorful ‘painting-objects’ made of voiles wrapped around mirrors, which manipulate and slow down our aesthetic experience. The works transcend their own borders as they engage the viewer, space, and light surrounding it. While looking at Niesche’s abstract compositions, the works depose their static nature and become a constantly shifting phenomenon of colors and reflections of the surrounding environment. In continuous conversation with the object, the spectator starts asking questions about what one sees and what one would like to see.

“I see mood, experience, memory in my works as an aesthetic category. I am interested in the experiential potential of an artwork. A work that is never quite the same, changing as you move around it. Both works have mirrors on the frame that reflect light and also create the ‘invert’ shadow on the opposite side of the painting. It changes as the light changes or as the sun moves through the day. […] The idea of using the mirror came from reading a quote describing looking into a shop window in a ‘desire like’ situation. You are looking at something you want and then are apprehended by your own reflection.” – Jonny Niesche

Moonlight mile (study), 2021 | Voile, Acrylic mirror and MDF | 60 x 60 x 6 cm

Jonny Niesche

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Online Catalogue for Mirrors / Mirages

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For more information or inquiries into the works in the exhibition Mirrors / Mirages, please contact director Nick Majoor-Arie via nick@ronmandos.nl

 

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ABOUT Lieven Hendriks

Lieven Hendriks takes everyday subjects in which the human touch is visible as a starting point for his work. For example, he paints nails in walls, stars and vases cut out of paper, and finger drawings on foggy windows. By using trompe l’oeil effects, his flat canvases appear as loosely stretched linens, deceiving the eyes of the viewer. In his work, Lieven Hendriks, plays a game with the nature of observation. His paintings anticipate how we look at art, how we focus our attention, and how this process is affected by surrounding circumstances. In this way, his work touches directly on the essence of painting and the value attached to it.

Creating hyperreal illusions requires mastery of one’s technique. When seeking to deceive his audience, Hendriks pulls out all the stops to make his work absolutely lifelike. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the illusion. For the artist, painting amounts first and foremost to a conscious demonstration of the highest professional skill. He uses his technical virtuosity to make the viewer think about the way we are used to look at paintings. Although his images seem to be crystal clear at first, they actually make us doubt through their ambiguity.

Lieven Hendriks (1970) studied at the HKU in Utrecht and was a resident at De Ateliers in Amsterdam. His work is part of many renowned international collections, including Museum Voorlinden, ESMoA Los Angeles, and the Centraal Museum in Utrecht.

www.lievenhendriks.com

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ABOUT Troika

Troika is a collaborative contemporary art practice formed by Eva Rucki (b. 1976, Germany), Conny Freyer (b. 1976, Germany) and Sebastien Noel (b. 1977, France) in 2003.

With a particular interest in perception and spatial experience, their collective works challenge our prescriptions of knowledge, control, and what it means to be human in an age of technology.

Troika’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum London, The Art Institute of Chicago, MoMA New York and the Israel Museum. In 2010, Troika was commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to produce three site-specific installations for the UK Pavilion, designed by Heatherwick Studio, at the Shanghai Expo. In 2014 Troika was selected to present their work ‘Dark Matter’ at Unlimited, Art Basel.

Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer and Sebastien Noel live and work in London.

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ABOUT Ann Veronica Janssens

Ann Veronica Janssens (BE, 1956) adopts the visual languages of science and minimalism. Her work suggests that all perception is fragile at best. Creating installations, projections, immersive environments, urban interventions, and sculptures, Janssens explores the sensory experience of reality. Space, distribution of light, radiant color, and translucent or reflective surfaces all serve to reveal the instability of our perception of time and space. She explores properties of matter and physical phenomena in order to destabilize ideas about materiality. Janssens took part amongst others in the Venice Biennale in 1999 and the Sydney Biennale in 2012. In 2018, she had a large survey exhibition in De Pont in Tilburg and more recently, in 2020, the Danish museum Louisiana dedicated an exhibition to her.

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ABOUT Sarah van Sonsbeeck

Sarah van Sonsbeeck’s (NL, 1976) work is two-sided: on the one hand, she tries to define, defend and extend private space; on the other, she simultaneously reveals the impossibility and perhaps even undesirability of being completely shut off from the world. Her work focuses on the thin permeable line between interior and exterior – without concern for the façade. This detour brings her to an investigation of a more immaterial side of architecture, in which she scrutinizes all the small elements that determine how we live in our homes, the things the architects cannot control. She amplifies these elements and devises shields against them, but also welcomes the unpredictable. Van Sonsbeeck studied architecture at TU Delft (MA) and art at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (BA). Her work was amongst others on show at De Nederlandsche Bank; Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; Musem Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.

Sarah van Sonsbeeck lives and works in Amsterdam. She is represented by Annet Gelink Gallery in Amsterdam.

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ABOUT Jonny Niesche

In Jonny Niesche’s (AU, 1972) practice colors are presences, or performers. Each tone deliberately selected for its resonance and how it exists in conversation with the next, Niesche understands and exploits the power of color to trigger our senses. Trawling fashion, music, makeup, and his own practice he digitally selects and distills hues to define the right experiential outcome, often one that offers a certain frequency to the gallery space. His practice is characterized by a plurality of color field combinations, seriality, and a play of light and motion. Niesche studied fine arts with Mikala Dwyer at Sydney University. His work is held in a number of collections, including Artbank, Sydney; Museum of New and Old Art, Hobart; and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; as well as private collections in Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia and Australia.

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ABOUT Iván Navarro

Iván Navarro (CL, 1972) is a conceptual Chilean sculptor. His work utilizes neons, mirrors, and optical phenomena to convey complicated textual information, usually pedagogical in nature and politically charged. His time spent living under a Chilean dictatorship shapes his choice of subject matter—specifically that of electricity, which has been used as a tool of torture, execution, and political dominance in Chile, with power regularly cut off as a means to foster isolation and subservience. His work has garnered international attention, with Navarro participating in important numerous exhibitions across the globe, including at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York, Egeran Gallery in Instanbul, and Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris, among numerous others.

Navarro is born in 1972 in Santiago, Chile, he lives and works in New York, NY. He is represented by Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris.

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ABOUT James Turrell

James Turrell (USA, 1943) has worked directly with light and space for over half a century, to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. Turrell considers the sky as his studio, material and canvas.The artist is most well-known for his Skyspaces, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. The simple act of witnessing the sky from within a Turrell Skyspace, notably at dawn and dusk, reveals how we internally create the colors we see and thus, our perceived reality. Turrell has installed works in twenty-two countries and in seventeen US states that are open to the public or can be viewed by appointment.

James Turrell lives and works in Arizona, US. He is represented by Häusler Contemporary, Zürich.

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ABOUT Brigitte Kowanz

Brigitte Kowanz (AT, 1957) is known for creating evocative sculptures, installations, and environments with a decidedly non-physical medium: light. Since the early 1980s, she has been exploring both the utilitarian and conceptual resonances of light with neon tubing, LED bulbs, aluminum, mirrors, and text. She draws upon such multidisciplinary sources as advertising, architecture, film, music, and the history of painting for inspiration. Through her use of mirrors, Kowanz aims to break down the boundaries between art and life, drawing viewers into her illuminated visions. Kowanz studied from 1975 to 1980 at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. She has been Professor of Transmedial Art there since 1997.

Brigitte Kowanz lives and works in Vienna. She is represented by Häusler Contemporary, Zürich.

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